War Between the Genders: Monogamous Black Men and Other Mythical Creatures
I’m not an avid Essence reader. I let my subscription slide sometime in my late 20s and by the time I was in my early 30s I rarely looked at it except when someone mentioned a particularly interesting article.
Like the one in the October 2008 issue.
A friend emailed me to ask if I read the article “What Makes a Black Man Cheat?”. “After I read that article, I said any Black woman who reads this will steer clear of Black men,” my friend wrote to me. “It was a SAAAAD article…”
Infidelity is a big topic for women’s magazine but critics of Essence feel they take the topic to a level other magazines rarely broach. Going back to January 2006 I found four articles on cheating(1) and two articles on monogamy (2). That doesn’t even take into consideration their classic articles on mansharing (3) that they revamp from time to time.
This series of short articles is no different than what has been in the magazine before except this time its a compendium of the different outlooks they’ve put out over the years. There’s the married man who isn’t remorseful because he needs the variety, there’s the preacher who is upstanding and says infidelity is against God’s will. To shake things up we have a philanderer’s daughter to give her perspective on the cheating ways of her father and grandfather. There was even a short blurby interview with David Barash the author of “The Myth of Monogamy: Fidelity and Infidelity in Animals and People”.
“Men want variety,” Barash tells Essence. “They like variety, maybe they are turned on by variety. But to say they need it is false.” Barash then goes on to say that people (both men and women) need to acknowledge attraction to others but it isn’t biologically mandated that one acts upon it.
To sum up, Barash states, “Well, no one’s cut out for monogamy– that’s the point. The question is, What are you going to do about it?”
Many African American men prefer to act upon their attraction. Sexual concurrency might be the acceded norm for many in the African American community but at what risk? Black males with numerous families can’t father them all effectively so the children are left without stable homes. Some black women who are cheated on not only become distrustful of black males but also angry and depressed. And in the end, although black males in their youth feel good about their number of conquests, detached and unmarried black men have the lowest life expectancy.
In the end no one wins.
Since black women have the most to lose and nothing to gain from this paradigm then black women are the ones who have to be the ones to make the change. When statistics get thrown out, we stand the worst for it. Black women are the ones who have a rise in HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases. Black women are the ones who are raising their families alone. Black women are the ones who have a high rate of never being married and the odds don’t look good. If the black males urgent need is the quick sexual conquest or long-term polygamy with unknowing women, then this surfeit is not his burden. It’s ours and ours only. Only we can change it.
Essence threw out a few options for dealing with cheating men, the ultimate one which is realize you can’t change a cheater. You can use safe sex with him or leave but chances are he won’t drop the other women.
But then what are the options for black women looking for one-on-one love? The odds are greater for finding a compatible mate if the dating pool was enlarged. Audrey B. Chapman suggested black women to date outside the race although many black women are loathe to do so. “Instead (black women) stay in a corner and scrap over the small pool of Black men. Black women need to think about dating outside of their race, about exercising a rainbow coalition.”
Hopefully before Essence does another article on coping with cheaters they will do one on that